Software development

SQL Vs NoSQL: Difference Between SQL and NoSQL

SQL is still a highly scalable structure, but if you are working with massive datasets, the scalability of NoSQL can be extremely beneficial. It’s a great question, and one that many people new to databases often have. Although both contain the word SQL, there are many differences between them. MongoDB is the most popular NoSQL database today and with good reason. This e-book is a general overview of MongoDB, providing a basic understanding of the database. On the other hand, SQL databases have proven themselves for over 40 years and use long-established standards that are well defined.

distinction between SQL and NoSQL

On the other hand, NoSQL databases shine when dealing with unstructured or semi-structured data, offering high scalability and flexibility. Ultimately, the choice between SQL and NoSQL depends on the specific needs and goals of your project. As we have already mentioned, relational databases can be scaled vertically, horizontal scaling is restricted because of the strict consistency requirements. Consistency enforcing mechanisms slow down the performance of the distributed database. In the early years, when storage was expensive, SQL databases focused on reducing data duplication.


In this guide, we will cover the major differences between SQL and NoSQL databases, highlight the pros and cons of the two, and outline the best database tools. Developers and sysadmins have less experience with newer database systems, so mistakes are made. Opting for NoSQL because it feels fresher, when to use NoSQL vs SQL or because you want to avoid schema design inevitably, leads to problems later. NoSQL’s simpler data models can make the process easier, and many have been built with scaling functionality from the start. That is a generalization, so seek expert advice if you encounter this situation.

distinction between SQL and NoSQL

NoSQL databases are non-relational (as opposed to SQL, which is relational). They first emerged in the late 2000s when developer productivity became more important than storage costs. When you’re ready to interact with MongoDB using your favorite programming language, check out the Quick Start Tutorials.

Advantages and Disadvantages of SQL

While both databases are viable options still there are certain key differences between the two that users must keep in mind when making a decision. However, if you intend to work with larger data structures that do not have any clear schemas, learning NoSQL could be worth your time. There is no doubt that, as more companies recognize the importance of big data, NoSQL will grow in popularity. NoSQL systems, on the other hand, can store key-value pairs, documents, graph databases, and more, which means the architecture is inherently more flexible.

  • However, today the most modern SQL databases incorporate a hybrid approach where you can choose between relational and NoSQL models.
  • In this article, we will explore the characteristics of SQL and NoSQL databases, highlighting their key features and use cases.
  • Like MySQL, it is compatible with many platforms and programming environments, despite relative recency.
  • Now that you know the key differences between SQL vs NoSQL databases, it’s time to explore the different options available for your workloads.
  • Since each piece of information is stored in a single place, there’s no problem with former versions confusing the picture.
  • When it comes to choosing a modern database, the challenge often lies in deciding between relational and non-relational databases.
  • The following list points out the key differences between a SQL and a NoSQL database.

In vertical scaling, data resides on a single node, and the only way to scale up is by adding more hardware resources, such as CPU and RAM, to one existing machine. An additional downside of vertical scaling is that it runs on one machine so if the server goes down, your application will go down too. SQL databases are better for multi-row transactions, while NoSQL is better for unstructured data like documents or JSON. SQL databases are also commonly used for legacy systems built around a relational structure. A significant benefit of NoSQL is that you don’t have to define a schema upfront (or ever). This makes it easy to add new columns without dealing with all the issues involved in altering a vast table with lots of data already in it.

SQL Best Practices

This flexibility enables you to add new functionality and features as needed, and you can make modifications easily. Both SQL and NoSQL are scalable, although the nature of their scalability is different. When choosing a database, one of the most important decisions you need to make is whether to go for a SQL or a NoSQL database.

distinction between SQL and NoSQL

Structured Query Language (SQL), pronounced “S-Q-L” or “See-quel,” is a query language that allows you to work with relational databases. SQL, or Structured Query Language, is a table-based relational database. It uses the SQL programming language for a variety of functions such as searching, inserting, modifying, and deleting data from database records. Furthermore, SQL is not just limited to these functions; it also supports optimization and administration of the database. Finally, a last thing to consider when debating SQL versus NoSQL is their structures.

Data Analyst

The term NoSQL is self-explanatory enough—it is a non-relational database management system. Unlike SQL-based databases, the NoSQL architecture does not use a fixed schema. Relational databases use relations (also known as tables) to store data. These tables can be connected together to create more complex storage facilities. The SQL language can be used to easily and efficiently insert records, update, search for records, and delete records in a database.

You can evaluate candidates’ skills in SQL databases such as Microsoft SQL Server and SQLite or NoSQL databases like MongoDB. Google is a great example of a company that understands its goals and can therefore make the best choice for its needs between a SQL and a NoSQL database. This means you must allocate substantial time to planning before you can produce the database.

Examples of NoSQL databases

NoSQL databases use a variety of data models, including key-value, document, columnar, and graph, to store and manage data. As the name implies, SQL allows performing query operations on relational or tabular data and returns the data in a structured data model consisting of rows and columns. Its strict predefined schema requires users to structure and organize data before performing the query operations. Fast-forward to today, and SQL is still widely used for querying relational databases, where data is stored in rows and tables that are linked in various ways. One table record may link to one other or to many others, or many table records may be related to many records in another table.

distinction between SQL and NoSQL

SQL databases are primarily called Relational Databases (RDBMS); whereas NoSQL databases are primarily called non-relational or distributed databases. On the other hand, if your budget is tight, and you need high performance and scalability, NoSQL is your best bet. An outright SQL and NoSQL comparison may not give you the true picture, as both have their own purpose in application development. It is important to establish the goals of the application, and only then can you make a proper choice. NoSQL is certainly simple to use; however, one must think about the implications of data stores when developing apps.

Choosing SQL: Pros & cons

SQL is older and sometimes constraining, but also time-tested and increasingly considered a universal interface for data analysis. NoSQL databases are newer and more flexible, but lack maturity and require user specialization. SQL has been around for over 40 years, so it is widely recognized, well documented, and widely used. Safe and versatile, it’s particularly well suited for complex queries.

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